Growing up in Norway, we were served fish oil by a spoon from the moment we popped out into this world. It was what our grandparents took as well as our parents. Although Norwegians are known to eat a lot of fish, we have been told that we need to take extra fish oil to be sure we get enough. And when I was training to compete in bikini fitness I was told I needed to take extra omega -3 to get enough healthy fats. Fish oil has always been that constant thing that we have been told is good for you.
Fish oil and Omega -3 supplements are a highly popular nutritional supplement that is recommended by personal trainers as well as nutritionists. Fish oil supplements have been promoted as an easy way to protect the heart, ease inflammation, improve mental health, and lengthen life. But is it really that good for you?
Omega – 3 is a healthy fat that our body needs. It is said to lower the risk of heart disease, depression, dementia, and arthritis. And as mentioned above, it is also supposed to be good for our brain function and overall health. Our bodies are not capable of producing omega -3, which is why it is a supplement we need to take or get through our food. However, taking tablets or oil, might not be the best way. Here is why:
Studies made of Omega -3
According to an article from Harvard Medical School, research about whether taking fish oil supplements has benefits for heart health is mixed. The study from 2018 showed that it did nothing to reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes, or death by heart diseases. In 2015, a study showed no benefits for people with risk factors for heart diseases either. However, when they looked at people who didn’t eat any fish at all, the results suggested that it could reduce the cardiovascular risk by taking omega -3 supplements.
Despite these studies, it can be a healthy strategy to eat fish and seafood to get the omega -3. Since it’s more than likely that you need the entire orchestra of fish fats, vitamins, minerals, and supporting molecules, rather than the lone notes of EPA and DHA to get the health benefits.
Why you should not take fish oil supplements
When they make fish oil tablets or bottle up the oil in factories, they often store the bottles and tablets for a long time before it is shipped to wherever they are being sent to. When they reach their new destination, they are relabeled and then sent out to the stores. This whole process can take up to 6 months, where in most cases, the fish oil will already have gone bad before it reaches the consumer. An easy way to check this is to open the Omega -3 capsules. If it has a very strong fish smell to it, it has gone bad. It shouldn’t have any smell to it at all. I mean, you wouldn’t eat a rotten fish and expected it to make you feel good.
What you can take instead of supplements
There is no doubt that omega -3 is important, but if you eat a healthy and balanced diet including fish you are most likely getting the omega -3 that you need. If you don’t eat fish at all and you have an omega -3 deficiency, you should consider finding another source of omega -3. Ground flaxseed or flaxseed oil, chia seeds, walnuts, canola oil, and soy oil are all good substitutes for the omega -3 capsules, and you don’t need more than one to two servings a day.